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Abbas: Halt attacks on olive harvesters

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Mahmoud Abbas said not enough is being done to halt attacks on Palestinian olive harvesters in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority president also urged the Palestinians to plant one million olive trees in the West Bank in retaliation for the “attacks by settlers,” saying in a news conference in Ramallah that he would personally fund the planting, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

On Sunday, Palestinians from the West Bank village of Kadum said 10 Jewish residents of the nearby Kedumim settlement attacked them with rocks as they harvested olives from their grove. The army removed the harvesters, who had not coordinated their picking schedule with the army. Village leaders said that coordinating with the army takes too long and that the olives would be ruined if they had to wait any longer.

Palestinian farmers and Jewish residents of Hebron clashed Saturday over the harvesting of an olive grove near Hebron’s Jewish Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Three left-wing activists were also arrested during the incident since they were not allowed to be in the closed military zone. 

Former Yesha Council leader Benzi Lieberman told Haaretz Sunday that Palestinians often cut their own olive trees to maintain the grove appropriately and then stage a scene of destruction to gain world sympathy. He said he visited olive groves allegedly cut down by settlers with a neutral tree-clearing expert who put forth the theory.

“They benefit twice,” Lieberman told Haaretz. “Cutting the trees down benefits the groves, and they also benefit financially because the damage supposedly was caused by settlers.”

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